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Mr. Smith is Not the Only One Going to Washington

West G junior makes trek to Nation's Capitol for Youth Summit

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Whether it’s being chosen for a tough audition in a play or being in the top 10% of grades, everybody likes being the one picked out in a crowd. But junior Kaden Knake’s story goes beyond being chosen from a class of 50 students to receive a blue ribbon; she was chosen from a class of fifty states.

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment is a prestigious program. In their words, the WYSE is a, “…hands-on, interactive program that provides America’s highest achieving high school students with an interest in the environment, conservation and sustainability, and with the desire to explore careers in the fields of environmental science, conservation, policy, law and engineering, with a remarkable opportunity…,” to, “…take an active role in the curriculum through exclusive behind-the-scenes explorations of facilities and laboratories of the Smithsonian and National Zoo, and through exclusive field visits, special access to, and activities with, researches, scientists, directors and staff.” It’s the end-all-be-all for someone looking to enter into environmentalism: but there’s a narrow bottleneck to get in.

All students in the entirety of the USA have the opportunity to enter, but only the best and brightest are chosen. Of those, only 300 are let in. If every high school student in the country tried to enter, all 15.1 million students, that would mean only 0.001987% of students would be allowed in.

The kicker?

Out of this possible 0.001987%, someone from our very own West Geauga High School was chosen. Kaden Knake was nominated by science teacher, Mr. Mike Sustin. On the high school web site, Mr. Sustin said, “I was so proud of Kaden when we found out that she had been selected as the only representative in our area.”

When Kaden was first notified, she said,“At first, I couldn’t believe that I would be able to do something like this — but then, after the initial shock, I couldn’t wait to get started.” With the gravity of being one out of only three hundred students accepted nationwide on her shoulders, she describes herself feeling, “…honored and excited,” by the opportunity. “I’m excited to have the chance to collaborate with so many different people on important issues and hopefully hear some exciting new solutions,” she said, when asked what about it excited her so much. As far as if anything is worrying her, she reports having no worries to speak of in particular.

On a broader scale, what interests Kaden about environmentalism in general is, “The impacts that people have on the environment,” she explained, “and our ability to individually control whether it’s positive or negative.” In an ideal future, she describes that she’d like to, “…inspire others to care about the environment, and possibly develop new conservation methods.”

This isn’t a new development, a phase, or the like. Kaden also noted, “I have always been interested in the environment since I was a kid. I’ve really been challenged to pursue different career paths and get more involved by the AP Environmental Science Class here at the high school.”

To others, looking down the same road, but not sure if they should take the step, Kaden had this advice: “Continue working hard, and pursue what you enjoy.”

This isn’t the end of the story, though. For all the hoops that Kaden has jumped through, there’s still one left… money. If anyone is interested donating, you can contact her at [email protected]

 

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